ICC official: Pakistan done ‘significant’ work on security
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has done a significant amount of work on security, a visiting International Cricket Council official said on Saturday.
But Giles Clarke, who heads the ICC’s Pakistan Task Team, didn’t say whether he would recommend major teams tour Pakistan for the first time since the deadly 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore.
“There’s a considerable amount of perception that needs to be changed, and there’s a considerable amount of information that needs to be shared,” he said.
Making a two-day trip, Clarke met with Pakistan government officials in Lahore, including a 35-minute meeting with chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and other police officials from the province of Punjab.
“We’ve had a most interesting series of presentations,” Clarke said. “We’ve been able to see very significant work ... how security and safety is going to be possible for visiting international cricket teams.
“I am here because the (Pakistan Cricket Board) felt strongly progress has been made.”
The Federation of International Cricket Association warned foreign players this month that it was not safe to travel to Pakistan, notably for the final of the domestic Twenty20 league in March in Lahore.
Clarke said he had not talked with FICA.
“I haven’t read that statement in full; I was far more interested in coming here for myself before I open that conversation, which will take place,” Clarke said.
Despite FICA’s security warning to international players, the PCB was adamant the final will go ahead in Lahore. The rest of the tournament, starting on Feb. 7, will be played in the United Arab Emirates, which Pakistan uses as its home for international cricket.
Clarke backed the PCB plans.
“I am not a security expert, but I do on a personal basis strongly support the PCB’s efforts to have their own domestic competition played in Pakistan with a dramatic and exciting final at the Gaddafi Stadium,” Clarke said. “I completely understand that desire and I would support their efforts to do that, but as I said, I am not a security expert.”
Of the test-playing teams, only Zimbabwe has toured Pakistan, in 2015 for three one-day internationals. They passed without incident.
Clarke said its an ICC objective that all of its full members should host bilateral series in their own countries.
“For us to do that we want everyone to be safe and secure,” Clarke said. “It’s not just the players ... we also want plenty of supporters to come here.
“You haven’t had the pleasure of the Barmy Army for a number of years,” he added with a smile, referring to England’s supporters.
- Rizwan Ali
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